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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

THE YELLOW TOWER                         163

"Master". He had met two of his four famous disciples before, Chang
Lei at Huaiyang and Chao Puchih near Hangchow. The other two,
Chin Kuan and Huang Tingchien, who later became major poets of
the Sung dynasty, now asked to be considered his disciples. The short,
stocky Li Chang had come to visit Su in the spring and had constantly
spoken of Chin Kuan and shown him Chin's verse. With Li Chang's
introduction, Chin Kuan had come to see him that summer. This was
the romantic poet who, according to legend, was married to Su
Tungpo's younger sister. Not yet having a degree, but young,
romantic, and carefree, Chin had many women friends. Later, when
he died, a courtesan committed suicide for love of him. Here was a
new voice in poetry, singing like a lark in spring. In his presentation
to Su Tungpo, Chin said that "rather than be a magistrate ruling ovef
ten thousand families, he would make the acquaintance of Su Suchow
[Tungpo]". He compared him to a "unicorn in heaven", and asked:
"Of all those born this side of the pole star, how many men are like
him?"

Huang Tingchien, who later became the father of the Kiangse
school of poetry, was a different type of man, scholarly and quiet. He
did not come to visit Su, but wrote two poems in a tone of great
humility to introduce himself, comparing Su Tungpo to a towering
pine tree standing on top of a cliff, and himself to a tender plant grow-
*ing at the bottom of a canyon and aspiring to grow to the same height.
Su had seen Huang's verse before, which he said had a solid content
and depth and an elevation of poetic feeling "not seen for quite a few
centuries". In his letter to Huang he said: "Why do you write such
a humble letter as if you were afraid of me? I was wanting to have
your friendship and was afraid that you might not accept me." Of
the four disciples of Su Tungpo, Huang was the eldest, and in the talk
of the time the names of Su and Huang were always coupled together.
After Su Tungpo died, Huang became the greatest poet of his time,
and people always spoke of him in the same breath with Su Tungpo.
But to the end, Huang considered himself Su Tungpo's pupil. Huang,
also, was introduced through Su Tungpo's closest friends, for he was
a nephew of Li Chang and the son-in-law of Sun Chueh.

In September, another man who became closely implicated in the
court trial of Su Tungpo's case came to visit him. Wang Kung was
again another type. The grandson of a premier, he travelled with a
whole cartload of the best wine from his own cellar because he would
not touch wine bought from the shops. He also brought to Suchow his
three concubines, Inging, Panpan, and Chingching. Su Tungpo joked
about his concubines, and in the introduction to his poem on the
Hundred-Yard Rapids he described Wang's exciting trip down the
rapids in the company of women with dimpled cheeks, while Su him-